Loyola Students Face Sleep Deprivation During Midterms

Samir El Idrissi | The PHOENIX

College kids may be sacrificing sleep for school.

Loyola students get an average of 6.3 hours of sleep per night, according to a non-scientific study by The Phoenix of more than 300 students.

As 72 percent of students report feeling fatigued on a regular basis, sleep deprivation is taking a great toll on the mental health of a majority of students. As midterms are approaching, students have been finding themselves sacrificing sleep to keep up with classes and extracurriculars.

To be healthy, young adults need about nine hours of sleep per night. Students have been found to get an average of three hours less sleep than they should every night. Many feel their lack of sleep has taken a toll on their lives, making sleep deprivation a common and serious issue among the student body, according to National Sleep Foundation.

First-year Loyola student Audrey Robins said she struggles to keep up with sleep and school.

“Because of my sleep habits, I frequently flake on friends, forget basic plans and don’t remember things I’ve committed to,” she said.

Robins said she usually doesn’t fall asleep until after 3:30 a.m. and admits she’s fallen asleep in class and public places, even when she’s talking to people.

On average, computer science majors get the least amount of sleep at Loyola with just 5.2 hours per night, according to the survey. By year, sophomores get the least amount of sleep at 6.1 hours, while seniors get the most at 6.5 hours on average.

Extracurriculars can also impact how rested Loyola students are. For every extracurricular a student is in, they sleep about 2 percent less each night.

Many students’ circadian rhythms — the body’s natural sleep schedule — are in constant flux because they sleep at varied times, which keeps them from setting a regular sleep schedule.

“I pulled two all-nighters last week so I could finish four papers and study for a test,” said first-year Loyola student Howard Williams, who says he gets an average of five hours of sleep per night. “I forced myself not to fall asleep the day after so I wouldn’t crash.”

Carolyn Bates is a doctoral student in clinical psychology at Loyola, studying the impact of sleep on human health. She said irregular sleep schedules affect a student’s productivity.

“Pulling all nighters and taking long naps during the day may result in an irregular sleep schedule that may interfere with optimal academic performance,” said Bates. “To perform well on exams, it is more important to get regular sleep than catching up on sleep just before a test. Regular sleep helps students to retain information learned during the day over the short and long-term.”

Interrupting your sleep cycle leads to fewer deep sleep hours. Deep sleep includes R.E.M., or random eye movement. This is the crucial part of sleep where dreaming occurs. Without it, it’s easier for people to get sick, depressed and have a slower metabolism, according to Harvard Business Review.

Losing deep sleep can also impair perception and cognitive function. Sleep has even been shown to help weed out unneeded neurological pathways, storing our most important memories, according to the National Institute of Health. Missing out on that process would have a negative impact on memory, which could be detrimental to a student’s performance.

“Sleep helps with executive functions, which are cognitive processes that underlie goal-directed behavior,” Bates said. “Lack of sleep may make it more difficult for students to direct, focus and shift attention, and may also lead to slower processing speed and more cognitive errors.”

Bates said students should get a minimum of six hours of sleep each night. If they fall short, she said taking 15 to 20 minute naps can help refresh students, but any longer than that and they could wake up feeling more tired than before.

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